The Roughly Chronological Re-Read Week 8: Henry VI, Part I

*Wk. 8 of the (roughly) chronological read-through of the complete #Shakespeare plays: Henry VI, Part I. …

The Scenic Route

Date:  Probably 1592.

First read: Circa 2005.

 

Productions seen: None, other than the bits and pieces I worked on. I’ll get round to seeing the 2016 Hollow Crowns at some point.

 

Productions worked on:  A couple of scenes at drama school.

 

Edition I’m using:   Same as for the other parts of Henry VI! Signet Classics.

Cheating by having one book for all three plays. Don't tell anyone. 

Observations:

 

  • Part of the way through this readthrough my husband flippantly referred to this as the “Star Wars prequels” of the War of the Roses plays. I think he hit the nail on the head. Calmer than the sequel/originals, more focused on the politics and less on the dismembering each other’s relatives and avenging dismembered relatives. But also less fun, a couple of decent action sequences notwithstanding.
  • Remember when I was writing about Richard III and I commented on Shakespeare’s passion for dramatic irony? Well, here we go again……

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The Roughly Chronological Reread, Week 7: The Taming of the Shrew

*week 7 of the (roughly) chronological read-through of the complete #Shakespeare plays: The Taming of the Shrew. …

The Scenic Route

Date:  1592 – 4.

First read: Leon Garfield’s abridged version around 1992. I tried the full version about a year later and got horribly bored with the Lucentio plotline. Read the whole thing without skipping bits when I was in third or fourth year at secondary school, so 1997/8?

 

Productions seen: Shakespeare: The Animated Tales in the 90s, more student and Fringe productions than I care to remember, plus a handful of adaptations ranging from very loose ones like Kiss Me Kate to faithful updates like Sally Wainright’s very clever version for the BBC’s Shakespeare Retold.

 

Productions worked on:  None, which surprises no-one more than me. Plans are being made for an adaptation, though, so that might change in a year or two if the programming and funding gods smile on me.

 

Edition I’m using:   A very old Signet Classic with someone else’s cuts marked…

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The Roughly Chronologoical Reread Week 6: Richard III

*week 6 of the (roughly) chronological read-through of the complete #Shakespeare: Richard III. …

The Scenic Route

Date:  1592 – 1594. I’ve seen suggestions that it pre-dates Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors, but I find it hard to believe that a writer could experience such a pronounced backslide.

First read: Leon Garfield’s abridged version around 1992, then the full version in the early 2000s.

 

Productions seen: Shakespeare: The Animated Tales in the 90s, two or three student productions at the Fringe, Brite Theatre’s excellent Richard III: A One-Woman Show (which is coming back to the Scottish Storytelling Centre next month and you should absolutely go and see it), and most recently the Almeida’s production starring Ralph Fiennes.

 

Productions worked on: None. Which sucks. I’d love to get my teeth into this one.

 

Edition I’m using:  The Oxford Shakespeare.

(Image to follow)

 

Observations:

 

  • It should go without saying that this is a cracker of an opening speech, but…

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The Roughly Chronological Re-Read Week 5: Titus Andronicus

*the (Roughly) chronological #Shakespeare read-through, wk. 5—the disturbing oddity that is Titus Andronicus. …

The Scenic Route

Date:  Some time between 1588 and 1593.

First read: 2007? Though I wonder whether I skipped this one, because it was mostly unfamiliar.

 

Productions seen: None at all. But I know the RSC are broadcasting this season’s production in August, so that will probably change shortly.

 

Productions worked on: As above.

 

Edition I’m using: Dover Thrift. Loving this cover.

Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?

 

Observations:

 

  • Reading this while working on a script in which Franck’s Panis Angelicus is mentioned leads to some odd mental mashups.
  • Well, I can see why this play was so popular in the craziness that was the 17th century. Blood and guts flying everywhere, more revenge than you can shake a stick at. The level of violence feels like it ought to be cathartic, a purgative theatrical experience… but actually it felt kind of pornographic instead. I can see why it provoked a considerable amount…

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The Roughly Chronological Re-Read Week 4: Henry VI, Part 3

*week 4 of the (roughly) chronological read-through of #Shakespeare’s plays: Henry VI, Part 3. …

The Scenic Route

Date:  1591-ish.

First read: 2005-ish.

 

Productions seen: No full productions, just scenes at drama school.

 

Productions worked on: As above.

 

Edition I’m using: Signet Classics. Same book, different week.

Cheating by having one book for all three plays. Don't tell anyone. 

Observations:

 

  • I will not get over-excited and make this all about Richard III. I will not get over-excited and make this all about Richard III. I will not get over-excited and make this all about Richard III.
  • Earlier on today I was replying to comments on the last post and something that Bee Dice said prompted me to start thinking about where this play comes not only in the chronology of Shakespeare’s plays, but also of Elizabeth I’s reign. By the time this play was written Elizabeth was well into her 50s and it would have been very clear that she wasn’t going to produce an heir. She also hadn’t named one, nor would she. The…

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The Roughly Chronological Re-Read Week 3: Henry VI (Part 2)

*to part/no. 3 of the Roughly Chronological read-through of the ‘complete’ #Shakespeare plays… —Henry VI (Part II). …

The Scenic Route

Date: Probably 1591.

First read: 2005-ish.

 

Productions seen: No full productions, just scenes at drama school.

 

Productions worked on: As above.

 

Edition I’m using: Signet Classics. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Signet before.

Cheating by having one book for all three plays. Don't tell anyone.

 

Observations:

 

  • There are people who believe that this is Shakespeare’s very first play. While it’s clearly an early work, I find it hard to believe that it could be the first. The language and characterisation are much better developed than Comedy of Errors or Two Gents.
  • It was suggested to me when I started this project that the Henry VIs should be read in story order, but in light of the argument mentioned above I preferred to go 2-3-1. I’ve tried to put Part 1 out of my mind for the purposes of the Re-read.
  • Back when I first started reading Shakespeare I assumed that as I grew more…

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The Roughly Chronological Re-read Week 2: The Comedy of Errors

*Wk. 2 of The (Roughly) Chronological #Shakespeare read-through 2017: The Comedy of Errors…

The Scenic Route

Date: Around 1594.

 

First read: In 2007. I don’t think I ever re-read it.

 

Productions seen: One at the Edinburgh Fringe, some time around 2003/4 (I think). I’m fairly sure it was a student production.

 

Productions worked on: None.

 

Edition I’m using: An elderly Arden.

comedy-of-errors

 

Observations:

 

Couplets. COUPLETS. Good god, Shakespeare, what are you doing to me? Why must everything rhyme? (All right, not everything. Not quite. Just most of the first three acts.) Why do you hate me, Shakespeare?

I’m not inherently anti-couplet. Used sparingly and judiciously they can be effective. Great at the end of sonnets, for instance. Useful for comic purposes, in their right place. But there’s such a thing as excess, and I think we hit that point about three pages into The Comedy of Errors.

I remember not being mad keen on this play when I first saw…

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